Director's report Football Football developments Football-related activities AFC Ajax NV (AFC Ajax, Ajax) produced a negative net result in the sum of NLG 5.4 million for the financial year 1997/1998. Net turnover dropped from NLG 90.7 million in 1996/1997 to NLG 85.6 million. The decrease in net turnover can be attributed to a lower turnover from football activities. These include turnover from gate receipts national league, Amstel Cup (national cup competition) and friendly games, gate receipts European competitions, premiums European competitions, season ticket sales, business seats and seats and indirect match income. Turnover from these activities dropped from NLG 67.8 million to NLG 50.4 million. However, if we disregard the gate receipts European competitions and premiums European competitions, the other turnover from football activities shows aslight increase from NLG 39.6 million to NLG 42.5 million. This increase can primarily be attributed to higher income from Amstel Cup gate receipts. Turnover from gate receipts European competitions and premiums European competitions dropped from NLG 28.2 million to NLG 7.9 million, the principal reason for which is that AFC Ajax competed in the UEFA Cup in the 1997/1998 season, rather than in the Champions League. This shows that competing in the Champions League is a major contributing factor in net turnover, as well as in the net result. Football-related income from sponsoring, television and merchandising rose from NLG 22.9 million in 1996/1997 to NLG 35.2 million in the 1997/1998 season. It was especially the increase in sponsor income from NLG 14.0 million to NLG 22.4 million that could be termed substantial. This increase in sponsor income can chiefly be attributed to the conclusion of a new sponsor contract with our main sponsor ABN AMRO and with our partner Canal+. Costs increased sharply in the 1997/1998 season. We observed an especially striking increase in the wages, salaries and social security contributions item, which rose by NLG 12.4 million to NLG 46.2 million. This increase can partly be attributed to the increase in workforce from 98 to 117 staff (in FTE's) In addition, the players' average wage bill was up. This trend can be observed in the entire sector. AFC Ajax NV saw its wage bill increase sharply on account of the expansion of the first team squad to 25 players by recruiting new players who were ready to compete at the highest level from the onset. The club had some catching up to do in this respect because of the departure of a large number of players in the 1995/1996 and 1996/1997 seasons as a result of the Bosman ruling. We were unable to compensate for this exodus from the club by bringing in players from our own youth programme. Ever since the Bosman ruling, contracts with players are concluded for longer terms, so that they can only leave without a transfer fee after a longer period with the club. This also affects the players' average wage bill as longer-term contracts usually involve higher salaries. Capital expenditure was recovered in 1997/1998 by winning the national championship and finishing first in the national cup tournament. At this time, Ajax is again in the position that it employs skilled, high-quality players. We aim to maintain this high-quality level by an annual influx of Ajax-trained talents. This development should ultimately lead to a reduced growth in the wages, salaries and social security contributions item. Training and development of Ajax-trained youthful players is and will remain an important cornerstone of Ajax' policy. In addition, having players of our youth training programme compete in the first team, will have a positive effect on the relationship with the supporters. From a sports perspective, the 1997/1998 season was successful. In the second season of playing in the Amsterdam ArenA, Ajax won the national championship for the twenty-seventh time, seventeen points ahead of PSV, which came in second. Another highpoint was winning the cup final in the Kuip stadium in Rotterdam. This victory made Ajax the winner of the national cup for the fourteenth time in. the club's history. It was the first time Ajax won the 'double' in fifteen seasons. Ajax reached the quarter finals in the UEFA Cup. Ajax was unable to win both the home and the away matches against Spartak Moscow and was knocked out. The teams of the youth training programme, one of our policy spearheads, had a successful season in their own competitions. The second team, the bridge between the youth training programme and the first team, won the championship, as did the Al, A2, BI, Cl, C2 and D2 teams. The A1 juniors and the B1 juniors won their respective championships for the seventh time in a row. The talent days were a great success. We had a record number of registrations: 4,500 players registered. Of these, 2,800 boys were ultimately allowed to show off their talents to the Ajax scouts. In 1997/1998, AFC Ajax NV initiated a number of projects abroad, inclu ding a study of close co-operation with a number of foreign clubs. We hope to definitively launch these projects in Belgium, South Africa and Ghana in the 1998/1999 season. One of the objectives of these projects is to create a better international supporting base for scouting and the youth training programme. Ajax' call for more high-quality European matches was also heard by other parties. Media Partners, an independent sports and media agency, has deve loped a concept for an European league. League matches are to be played on weekday evenings. The concept, in principle, does not get in the way of domestic leagues. In response to the Media Partners concept, the UEFA developed its own plans. The UEFA also invited a number of clubs, including Ajax, to exchange ideas about the future of European football. During these meetings, the clubs asked the UEFA to provide access to all sorts of infor mation, particularly financial information. The UEFA plans are based on participation of various clubs from major football countries. The Champions League will be made up of eight groups of four teams, the best two of which advance to four groups of four. This phase is followed by a knock-out system. The finalists will play a total of seventeen matches in one European season. The UEFA proposed to divide a larger part of the income over the participating clubs. Total prize money will also be increased. In addition, the aim is to combine the UEFA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup into one tournament. The conclusion is justified that, whatever shape the final plans will take, the new structure will allow football clubs to compete in more European matches and there will be more prize money to be earned. As far as Ajax is concerned, this is a desirable and logical development, which, we believe, cannot be stopped. Sponsoring Ajax maintains close relations with its sponsors, evidenced by the fact that most sponsors have been associated with the company for several years already. In the financial year 1997/1998, only Opel decided to terminate its relations with Ajax after the end of the financial year. Agreement has now been reached with Mitsubishi Motors Europe, which has undertaken to commit itself to the company for four years with effect from the 1998/1999 season. We have already made agreements with 8


Jaarverslagen Ajax NV (vanaf 1997) | 1997 | | pagina 84